The traditional market butcher who has become a hit on Facebook raking in hundreds of thousands of viewers

Every Saturday morning, T-Bone Tony looks out from his mobile butcher’s stall to see a long socially-distanced queue stretching back far into the distance. Customers come from far and wide to pick up their week’s supply from 52-year-old Tony, choosing from an array of bulk-buy offers for their Sunday roasts, barbecues, and cooked breakfasts. But why is he so popular?

Tony has taken all the traditional market sales patter he has learnt over 35 years in the industry and brought it into the social media age. His Facebook Live videos, shot outside his stall in the B&Q car park on Corporation Road, Newport, regularly attract hundreds of thousands of viewers a week and they’ve resulted in an explosion in business. Tony Cooper, affectionately known as T-Bone Tony, loads up an 18-tonne truck full to the brim with meat on a Saturday morning, and says he regularly returns home on a Sunday evening having sold the lot.

Tony Cooper is a well-known face in Newport

“The brainwave came from watching QVC, and there’s some guy there saying ‘look we’ve got this diamond ring, the price is GBP100 but you can have for GBP80 if you buy it now’,” Tony said.

“They are just speaking to a camera and people are ringing up saying ‘I’ll have that’ – and the inspiration came from there really. “It’s something you’re doing anyway as a market butcher.” Tony encourages viewers to write a specific comment and share his videos for a chance to win a free bundle of produce, while he takes them through the day’s deals and offers with his trademark humour thrown in.

The social media posts worm their way through the Facebook algorithm and Tony says the result is a new clutch of customers every week. “It’s almost like you’ve channelled all your sales patter into a 10-minute video and by the end you’ve shown them practically everything you’ve got on the truck,” he said. “It works because people come up and say have you got any of those boneless lamb chops you had on the video this morning?

“We find that every week there’s two or three new customers and normally they stay with you.”

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The traditional market butcher who has become a hit on Facebook raking in hundreds of thousands of viewersTony and his team sell their produce in Newport every weekend

Tony, who actually lives in Coventry, has been trading in Newport for more than 35 years having started as a teenager working in the town’s cattle market. He’s built up a strong relationship with his his customers, and has been serving some families for several generations. Alongside his second in command Shaun Rutter, he has become a well-known character around the city.

“Newport was one of the markets we did many years ago,” Tony said. “Most of the people we serve come down because they want to see us. Tony and Shawn at Newport is like peaches and cream.

“Half of them I’ve known for years. I’ve seen their kids grow up. They bring the kids down and the kids are buying meat.

You are serving the different generations.”

The traditional market butcher who has become a hit on Facebook raking in hundreds of thousands of viewers

Although Tony isn’t always enthusiastic about the early mornings and the long hours, he said it’s serving people that is his favourite thing about the job. And with Christmas on the way he said he’s looking forward to a bumper year of winter sales. “It’s nice to serve people,” Tony said.

“The videos are great. I enjoy doing those. I could quite happily stand in front of a camera and rant all day.

“Some people would start flapping if they had to present to 1,000 people.

“Doing this job for such a long time and meeting people all the time, it doesn’t affect me in the slightest.”

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